EyeTracKConf Uppsala

751 42 Uppsala
Thursday, 27 May 2010


To download the finalized agenda, please click here.
To download speakers' abstract, please click here.

DAY 1 - Conference


Morning session


09:00-09:15 Registration and coffee


Welcome by Gustaf Gredebäck, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, Uppsala University where he manages the Uppsala Babylab


Introduction by Tommy Strandvall, Global Training Manager, Tobii


Abstract: Research has found that pupil size is influenced not only by changes in light, but also by mental workload, increased attention, emotions, and other cognitive loads. Pupil size measurements are becoming increasingly popular in many research fields. One reason for this is the wider availability and use of eye tracking technology that can accurately measure pupil size in addition to eye movements. The technology used in Tobii Eye Trackers allows for calculations of the position of the eyes as well as the pupil size. In this presentation Tommy will introduce Tobii’s eye tracking technology and demonstrate how pupillometry experiments can be conducted using eye tracking equipment from Tobii. 


"Eyes Wide Open: The Pupillometry of Desire” by Bruno Laeng, Professor in cognitive neuropsychology with the Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway.


Abstract: Pupillary diameter is known to have a proportional relation to the observer's level of interest (or intensity of attention) to a stimulus. In a pupillometric study from our laboratory, a group of women viewed photos of faces and three pupillometric measures were taken for each participant during the ovulatory, luteal, and menstrual phase of the cycle. An increase in mean pupil diameter was largest when the participants viewed photos of their actual sexual partners during the fertile phase and only for women who did not use oral contraceptives. These findings illustrate the ability of the pupillometric method to measure motivational states. Pupillary responses can occur spontaneously and involuntarily to stimuli that are not consciously processed, as indicated by a parallel study from our laboratory of amnesic patients. Although the patients were unable to tell which photos had been seen in a previous session and which photos were new, they showed significantly larger pupillary dilations to novel images than to previously viewed images. We are currently investigating the application of the pupillometric method to ‘marketing research’ or in situations in which individuals make rapid ("gut") decisions about what stimulus they prefer.  



Gustaf Gredebäck, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, Uppsala University where he manages the Uppsala Babylab. 


Abstract: Several studies have demonstrated that young infants anticipate the goal of others manual actions (for example Falck-Ytter, Gredebäck, & von Hofsten, 2006), at the same time, measures of pupil dilation remain sparse in the infancy literature. The current talk describes a paradigm for collecting and analyzing pupil dilation data within a developmental social cognitive framework.

Four-, 6-, and 12-month-old infants were presented with videos of everyday social interactions, and similar events that are performed in irrational and infrequent manners. More specifically, infants observed movies of two adult actors having a conversation and eating banana. At the end of each movie one of the actors directed a spoon filled with banana towards the other; either placing the food in the recipient’s month (rational feeding) or on the back of the recipient’s hand (irrational feeding). Infants at all ages dilated their pupil during observation of the irrational and infrequent condition, but not during the rational and frequent condition. These studies demonstrate that infants are able to detect irrational interactions between human agents from at least 4 months of age and suggest that infant’s pupil dilations express an increased arousal and/or enhanced cognitive load.




"Investigating Emotion Understanding in 10- and 14-month old infants” by Robert Hepach, PhD in the Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Psychology, Leipzig, Germany.


Authors: Robert Hepach (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Leipzig, Germany) and, Gert Westermann (Oxford Brookes University, UK)


Abstract: Although previous research has shown that infants discriminate between various emotional facial expressions and that they prefer congruent pairings of emotional facial expressions and vocal tone, it is not known whether infants have a conceptual understanding of what facial emotional expressions mean. In this study we investigate emotion understanding in 10- and 14-month old infants using a violation-of-expectation paradigm and analyzing looking patterns and pupil dilation. Infants were shown movie clips of a (female or male) actor with a happy facial expression performing either a happy (congruent: patting a toy tiger) or an angry (incongruent: thumping a toy tiger) action and clips of an actor with an angry facial expression performing the angry (congruent) or the happy (incongruent) action. The dependent measures were looking time and pupil dilation.  The results showed that 14-month old infants but not 10-month old infants differentiated congruent from incongruent actions: Pupil dilation in the older age group was higher during incongruent trials.

These results may indicate a developmental effect from 10- to 14-month old infants' understanding of the meaning of facial emotional expressions. We therefore argue that the measure of pupil dilation is a powerful approach to investigate social cognitive phenomena. We will discuss techniques for both data exploration and data analyses.




¨Resource Allocation and Learning in Individuals Differing in Cognitive Abilities: Insights from Pupillometry and Eye-Movement Analysis¨ by Dorothea Ullwer, Dipl.-Psych., Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany

Authors: Dorothea Ullwer, Jan Ries, Manja Foth, Elke van der Meer from Department of Psychology of Humboldt University Berlin

Abstract: As the dilation of the pupil is related to all kinds of cognitive effort and furthermore

not limited to a specific part of the cognitive system (Just et al., 2003), pupillary measures are

a sophisticated way to assess the amount of cognitive resources allocated to a certain task.

Our previous research on mathematical and fluid intelligence tasks revealed a relation

between mental resource allocation and cognitive abilities. Individuals with superior cognitive

abilities have shown an increased availability of cognitive resources, i.e., higher pupil dilation

especially in the more demanding tasks (van der Meer et al., 2010).


In our present study we used a geometrical relation detection task to investigate the

impact of learning on the allocation of cognitive resources in individuals differing in cognitive

abilities. We distinguished a learning phase, in which subjects had to decide about the relation

of acquainted geometric patterns, and a transfer phase, where subjects had to solve the same

task with either acquainted, analog or novel patterns.


We combined behavioral measures to examine task performance with pupillary

measures that indicate resource allocation. Furthermore, we used eye-movement analysis to

shed light on differences in the acquirement of efficient problem solving strategies.

In line with our previous findings, subjects of superior cognitive abilities outperformed

normal controls in terms of accuracy rate and reaction time while investing more resources

and applying more efficient problem solving strategies especially in the more difficult tasks.

Concerning the learning process, the efficiency in the use of cognitive resources increased

over the course of the experiment within both groups. On the other hand there was no

differential effect of learning between groups according to the pupillary measures.


Furthermore, gaze data analysis revealed strategic differences between subjects of superior

versus average cognitive abilities. More precisely, the more capable subjects showed stronger

pronounced effects of learning and information reduction in the transfer phase.


¨Through the Eyes of the Own-Race Bias: Pupillometry During Perception of Own-Race and Other-Race Faces¨ by Esther Wu, University of Oslo, Norway


Authors: Esther Wu, Bruno Laeng and Svein Magnussen

Abstract: Many studies have established that people are generally better at remembering faces of their own race than faces of another different race, and this finding has become known as the Own-Race Bias (ORB) effect. In this study, we used pupillometry to examine whether Caucasian participants invested levels of cognitive effort differently when processing Caucasian and Asian face stimuli. First of all, we replicated the ORB, observing better recognition performance for own-race faces than other-race faces. We observed a distinct race effect of the stimuli on pupillary response, with own-race face processing requiring less cognitive effort. This can be interpreted in the light of existing accounts of ORB, i.e., there is a cognitive advantage for own-race faces during perceptual processing. During a subsequent recognition test, we further observed an effect of memory for previously-viewed stimuli on pupillary change. Less cognitive effort was required for the retrieval of novel stimuli when compared to old ones. However, we did not observe an interaction effect between the race of the stimuli and prior exposure, suggesting that the effect of prior exposure to the stimuli on eye data is not modulated by the race of the stimuli. 


¨The pupil dilates as a function of attentional effort in multiple object tracking¨ by Steven van de Pavert, Center for the Study of Human Cognition, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway

Authors: Thomas Espeseth, Steven Harry Pieter van de Pavert, Silje Jynge, Markus Handal Sneve, & Bruno Laeng, from Center for the Study of Human Cognition, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway 

Abstract: Pupil dilation has long been used as an index of effort in cognitive tasks (Kahneman, 1973). We recruited 41 healthy participants and recorded their pupil diameter while they performed a multiple-object tracking (MOT) task in which ten identical circular objects moved randomly about the display, of which they were to track 0, 2, 3,4 or 5 target objects.

The results revealed that tracking load strongly predicted both accuracy and pupil diameter. Moreover, mean pupil diameter at the tracking load of two objects correlated negatively with accuracy at all tracking load levels.

These data indicate that pupil dilation is a sensitive index of attentional effort in a tracking task that is believed to be a “pure” measure of attention, that is relatively independent of working memory. Furthermore, the correlation analysis showed that high pupil diameter at low load levels was associated with lower accuracy at all load levels, but pupil diameter at high load levels was not predictive of accuracy. This may reflect higher effort exerted by individuals with lower tracking capacities at low levels. 



13:15        Lunch


Afternoon session


Sylvain Sirois, Professor of developmental psychology at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Canada.


Abstract: Much of what we “know” about early infant cognition is based on paradigms that assume that infants will be surprised by events that violate their cognitive expectations. This surprise is construed as an index of how infants represent the world (in relation to unusual/implausible events), and by carefully manipulating experimental events researchers can thus chart the representational structure of the pre-verbal mind. Unfortunately, surprise in a majority of studies is derived from relative looking times to distinct events meant to elicit distinct levels of surprise (and, moreover, for different reasons). Therefore, surprise is reduced to a single number, and to a number which is a remote index of the construct of interest; that is, how much longer do babies look after some surprise-eliciting event has happened. In this talk, I illustrate from various experiments how dynamic, event-related changes in pupil dilation provide a much finer measure of cognitive surprise in infants, how this index does not

correlate with distal, cumulative looking time measures, and how the results stress the central role of perceptual features of the events used to study infant cognition.


"Social cues support feature co-occurrence learning in infancy” by Rachel Wu, PhD in Psychology at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom.


Authors: Rachel Wu, Alison Gopnik, and Natasha Z. Kirkham
Abstract: This eye-tracking study provides the first evidence that the ability to track feature co-occurrence in multi-element scenes may support object knowledge in infancy. Using this explicit measure of learning, the present study is also the first to demonstrate that social attention cues (compared to no cues) provide a real-time advantage for visual processing (especially among distracter events) in the first year. 9-month-olds displayed rapid learning of the target pattern in the Social Cue conditions, despite attending less to the target pattern during familiarization than infants in the No Cue conditions. Infants could learn these patterns without social cues, though learning in this manner was attenuated with complex layouts, unlike in the Social Cue conditions. These findings suggest that social cues elicit incredibly rapid perceptual learning in a noisy environment, supporting (and even shaping) basic learning in infancy. Because we have also collected pupil dilation data with the looking time measures, we wish to promote discussions about how to best analyze pupil dilations within this paradigm.


Break and networking

"View onto alertness – objective assessment of central nervous activation level by pupillography”
by Helmut Wilhelm, Professor at the Department of Ophthalmology, Medical School, University of Tuebingen, Germany. 


Abstract: This contribution gives an overview about the measurement of alertness by means of the pupillographic sleepiness test (PST). Those measurements are typically done in complete darkness. In an alert subject the pupils remain dilated in darkness and change less than 0.3 mm in their diameter. In case of sleepiness pupils begin slowly to constrict and to redilate, thus forming so called sleepiness waves. This phenomenon has been observed in the sixties by Lowenstein and Loewenfeld and was named fatigue waves. Today we know that not fatigue but sleepiness is the background of those pupillary changes in darkness...

Click the link below to download the full version of the abstract:
Abstract_Helmut Wilhelm.pdf


Closing remarks


17:00 Ending day 1


DAY 2 - held at Uppsala University, Babylab


09:00 A Visit to the Babylab in Uppsala University


There will be an opportunity for you to learn more about eye tracking in experimental paradigms using infants and adults. If you are the one who are interested in general eye tracking methods and/or pupil dilation measures, this visit is definitely beneficial to you.

This half day visit will also include a tutorial on pupil dilation measures and analysis. Discussion will be lead by our keynote speaker.




Ending day 2

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    Cancellations can be made via email to audrey.wang@tobii.com before May 5th, 2010.
    Cancellations after May 5th, 2010 or no shows at event will be charged EUR 85 per participant.
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